Poll: Californians Say Drought Is The "New Normal," But Favor Investments In Long-Term Solutions

CA_Water_Found_graphClimate Change not among the top priorities per California voters.

From the California Water Foundation:

Californians believe this year’s record drought is the “new normal” and favor investments in long-term solutions over short-term fixes, according to a poll released today by the California Water Foundation.

The poll, conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters — the Democratic polling firm Fairbanks, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates of Oakland, Calif. and Republican firm Public Opinion Strategies of Washington, D.C., found that Californians blame the drought on a variety of causes but more than three in five point to population growth, and waste of water as “major causes.” Some 85% of Californians continue to view the drought as a “very serious” or “serious” problem, with 48 percent considering it a “serious crisis” — more than triple the number that said that in a 2011 poll.

At the same time, sizable majorities recognize that California’s water supply problems are long-term, and will not be resolved by additional rain. In fact, more than three in five label drought conditions “the new normal.”

However, there is a major partisan divide on the role that climate change plays in the current drought. Some 55% percent of Democrats pin part of the blame on climate change; just 35% of Republicans do.

Protecting and regulating groundwater — a key issue facing the Legislature this year — is overwhelmingly favored by Californians. Some 94 percent say it needs to be considered in managing future droughts.

“Californians want both immediate actions in response to the current drought and a plan for the future that addresses the “new normal” of chronic water shortages” said California Water Foundation Executive Director Lester Snow. “This poll shows that Californians are united in thinking that we need to employ all the tools we have to manage water more efficiently and to make investments now that squeeze the most out of the water supplies we have.”

Voters, for the most part, are far less likely to say they personally have been impacted by the drought, but they believe that others have been significantly affected. Farmers were viewed as the most impacted, with 56% of Californians citing Central Valley farmers as being among the most affected by the drought. Significant numbers also recognized that fish and wildlife are suffering from the lack of water in the state.

More than nine in ten voters agree that California should employ a wide range of potential solutions, from conservation to water storage to recycling. In contrast, voters are divided on rolling back environmental regulations.

Governor Brown is given a vote of confidence in dealing with the drought. Some 56 percent of Californians say he is doing a good job on the issue.

Voters are split on the proper scale of action. Democrats, Latinos, and Southern Californians favor a statewide solution while GOP voters, independents and northern Californians prefer a regional approach.

A majority would be willing to pay a water fee of as much as four dollars a month to address water supply problems – and even larger proportions express support for smaller amounts.

The poll was conducted from May 29 to June 4 with 800 California voters. Its margin of error is 3.5%.

Link to the poll summary: http://californiawaterfoundation.org/uploads/1403027017-CAVotersandDrought-CWFSurveySummary(00254161-2xA1C15).pdf

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40 thoughts on “Poll: Californians Say Drought Is The "New Normal," But Favor Investments In Long-Term Solutions

  1. Unless I just missed it, I didn’t see desalinization on the list of solutions. I guess it’s because California is too far from any large body of water which could be used in desalinization.

  2. Lots of people, pools , car washes , showers , baths etc etc in an area not know for its rain.
    Well guess what , water becomes a problem as it does every time you get this combination , frack all to do with AGW

  3. Only 55% of Democrats blame global waming? I had always assumed the pecentage of ignorants in that party was far higher. So what happened to the majority, the Independent voters? They weren’t polled?

  4. Suggestion/ Possible Solution: Stop frittering away tax dollars on this lie called global warming, and begin construction of multiple desalination plants along the California coast. Yes, extremely costly, but consider the federal and state money wasted on Mr. Gore’s fallacy.

  5. California’s drought is being brought on, at least in part, by environmentalists.

    Exhibit 1- No new dam has been built in 35 years. Dams are needed to store water, especially as California’s population has DOUBLED in 35 years.

    Exhibit 2 – nearly 2 million acre feet of water per year is NOT being used to irrigate farms, but instead is being used to ‘protect’ delta smelt (a 3 inch fish). This is enough water for over 3 million families.

  6. Bottom line is that people intuitively know that the AGW scare is bogus, despite what the politicians say.

  7. Redistribution of other peoples wealth is the number one goal of Calf. voters and they have reached for more than possible, thus the fact of a shortage of U-Haul Trucks in Calf..

    Gone to Texas says the recipt slips left on the U-Haul check out counter.

  8. Californians believe this year’s record drought is the “new normal” and favor investments in long-term solutions over short-term fixes, according to a poll released today by the California Water Foundation.

    What people “believe” is neither here nor there. What has the drought got to do with man?

    US droughts and mega-droughts during the Holocene. Here is a sample from the list.

    Abstract – 2002
    Larry Bensona et al
    Holocene multidecadal and multicentennial droughts affecting Northern California and Nevada
    ……. During the latter part of the middle Holocene (6500–3800 cal yr BP), drought conditions dominated, Owens Lake desiccated, and Lake Tahoe ceased spilling to the Truckee River, causing Pyramid Lake to decline. At the beginning of the late Holocene (∼3000 cal yr BP), Lake Tahoe rose to its sill level and Pyramid Lake increased in volume.

    http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0277-3791(01)00048-8

    A few years of drought and people scream UNPRECEDENTED! It’s worse than we thought! We must fight and fight hard for a stable, unchanging climate.

  9. California is in drought due to weather well within historical variations.

    California has a water shortage due to unprecedented political dysfunction.

  10. Actually, I was expecting an 90-30 split (on the “major divide”) so only a 20 point swing is close to normal. IN other words, barely half of democrats (and by implication, less than half of all) blame Global warming.

    But I fear their anger is going to be turned inward. And the central valley is going to suffer from it. City folks just do not understand that crops need water to grow.

  11. Here are some of the effects of the Little Ice Age on parts of the USA.

    Abstract – 1994
    ‘Little Ice Age’ aridity in the North American Great Plains: a high-resolution reconstruction of salinity fluctuations from Devils Lake, North Dakota, USA

    http://hol.sagepub.com/content/4/1/69.short

    ===============
    Abstract – 1994
    A warm and wet little climatic optimum and a cold and dry little ice age in the southern rocky mountains, U.S.A.

    http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF01092417

    ===============

  12. Did you know you can export ‘water’? Let’s ‘make hay’ with California’s valuable water resources. We must act now on climate change and the causes of hay growth.

    BBC – 19 February 2014
    California drought: Farmers use water to grow hay for export to China
    …..But the availability of water is uneven – while most have little, a few farmers have a lot. They are using it to grow hay – or alfalfa – and exporting some of it to China thanks to a quirk in the global economy. …..

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26124988

    =============
    BBC – 19 February 2014
    California drought: Why farmers are ‘exporting water’ to China
    While historic winter storms have battered much of the US, California is suffering its worst drought on record. So why is America’s most valuable farming state using billions of gallons of water to grow hay – specifically alfalfa – which is then shipped to China?…..

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-26124989

    =============
    LA Times – 2014
    U.S. farmers making hay with alfalfa exports to China
    …..Since 2009, alfalfa exports to China grew nearly eightfold to a record 575,000 tons — shipped overseas in the same containers that deliver the latest iPhones and flat-screen TVs from Chinese factories.

    China has now pushed past Japan as Asia’s biggest buyer of U.S. alfalfa and is second only to United Arab Emirates as the globe’s top importer, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Sales of alfalfa shipped abroad amounted to $586 million last year, part of the nation’s record $144 billion in agricultural exports……

    http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-feeding-china-hay-20140609-story.html

  13. The blame for global warming is inflated. If it had bothered to mention human-caused global warming as in the type specifically underlying the carbon taxes in CA, the attribution by the respondents would have been much less. It is misleading on the part of pollsters to not distinguish human caused versus natural cycle-caused since natural cycles do come back down and human-induced are projected to be either linear or exponential increases with no relief short of massive adjustment. It is professionally defunct survey design.

  14. “Californians believe this year’s record drought is the “new normal””

    Almost half the state of California is officially considered desert. Drought was the “old normal” too.

  15. Most Californians haven’t the slightest idea of what normal is. The state had above average rainfall in 2012 (http://ggweather.com/ca2011rain.htm) , the lakes and reservoirs were full, and it will likely return to normal in 2015. No need even to build more reservoirs, just cut the water going to sea after a year of below normal rainfall.
    But this state is governed by courts not reason. They’ve completely botched it. If we have another winter like the last, watch this state implode. It will become a complete disaster.
    Meanwhile, California fish and game continue to do fish kills to rid waterways of non indigenous species, but the courts mandate a certain amount of water to be sent downstream to protect the Smelt fish, which is a non native species to California.

  16. Didn’t mean to be “flippant” about dams:

    http://www.kqed.org/news/science/climatewatch/waterandpower/map.jsp

    There seems to be enough in numbers of dams, but management of the resources seems lacking.
    Maybe you have to sacrifice a few fish to insure the water supply. I’m not saying to dam up Yosemite Park, but maybe there are some other places which could be dammed for large reservoirs. You can’t keep all of California as a national park or monument. (Like Alaska is assumed to be a National Park, rather than a state by the Greens)

  17. “”Favors long term solutions over short term fixes””….That is exactly why California is going to spend a billion, whoops make that 2 billion now without including further cost increases to come, on high speed rail down south. This will allow the state to rapidly move vast quantities of bottled water where ever needed, once the project reaches completion in x/years.

  18. Too bad we are losing so many of our folks from the dust bowl era. Now that event put the dr in drought.

  19. Here is California’s precipitation during El Nino years.

    More or less opposite during La Nina.

    Wait till the Fall to see how many local authorities were caught completely off-guard by flooding.

  20. Chris4692 says:
    June 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm
    “Treating waste water for reuse would be much less expensive than desalination.”

    Perhaps, but have you ever lived down wind from on of those treatment plants?

  21. Droughts are no more frequent than any previous Negative PDO. In fact, so far, this Negative phase is not at all worst case.

  22. Surprisingly or not, the Bahamas, all islands live on desalinated water. It is the only thing to do when you are surrounded by salt water. Pity that California can’t figure that out.

  23. Five years of drought – END OF THE WORLD!
    Flood year – END OF THE WORLD!
    Five years of drought – END OF THE WORLD!
    Flood year – END OF THE WORLD!

    Been that way here my whole life, will be the same six more years down the road.

  24. I think I see a good use for windmills. They could be used to run desalination plants.

    Two minutes of “research” is all it takes to discover that the current California drought, while it may be a severe one by modern standards, is not really much compared to historical droughts. There was a “240-year-long drought that started in 850 and, 50 years after the conclusion of that one, another that stretched at least 180 years”, according to the San Jose Mercury News. So, it sounds like climate change may actually be saving California from a real drought.
    The myopic temporal view of climate that most people seem to have always amazes me. It’s as if they think that all of geologic time started the day they were born.

  25. Seems to me that California needs dams only for those seasons when winter snowpack is below normal. Of course, you fill up the dammed reservoirs in precisely those seasons when snowpack volume is good.

    The winter snowpack is a natural ‘dam’ in as much as the water is released steadily over a 3 – 4 month period in spring and early summer in normal seasons. Snowpack data over nearly 50 years exists for various parts of California where major ski stations exist, so you can see the rise and fall of winter snowpacks over the decades. The data shows that some decades are consistently below average, whereas others are consistently above. Strong el Ninos usually bring unusually heavy rainfall/snowfall to the Sierra which may or may not happen next winter depending on how events in the Pacific pan out.

    As for recycling waste water, perhaps the Chinese could ‘export’ their centuries-old city waste recycling for agriculture solutions to California??

    Some would call it common sense, but common sense is, after all, what you happen to be good at…….

  26. I thought there was a hint of reason, but it doesn’t go too far. Rolling back environmental measures costing water in time of drought is a no-brainer. Drought being natural, the smelt should deal with it naturally, not receive a pass. But most concerning, overwhelming majorities are willing to throw money at the concept of drought. I wonder, rhetorically, how that willingness to throw money at a problem has improved, say, education? Looks like CA has found another way to part fools from their money.

  27. I found an interesting new page on the National Weather Service web for the NW region. It has articles written for a limited audience about climate and weather. Some of the articles speak to California’s climate and weather. For example the Fresno article uncovered a heat island affect as much as 10 degrees hotter than equivalent but rural sited stations nearby. Rather enlightening, don’t you think?

    http://www.wrh.noaa.gov/media/wrh/online_publications/TMs/techmemo.php

  28. Janice Let me know about this post.
    She did so because the company I work for can manage wells based on aquifer levels, and provide historical static water levels, as well as minute by minute draw down and recovery profiles based on pumping activities. We provide efficiency reports, and can manage pumping by using pumps that are most efficient to move most water. We also allow districts to let the cloud manage their pumping so that tanks are full just prior to the tiered energy pricing – this mostly or always avoiding peak energy costs.

    The noteworthy thing here is:
    1) We do this for very small water companies (such as with fewer than 20 connections)
    2) Our pricing is on order of 1/10 that of traditional control technologies.
    3) No one needs to get state funding to buy our technology.
    4) Our systems usually pay for themselves in less than a year (saving manual labor, energy, and finding leaks and problem early before they become costly.

  29. Janice: Thank you. I did not want to be too self serving here at WUWT… but, I would entertain all interest at my business email address (mariol@xioio.com) if Mods are OK with that.

  30. What they do not want the public to know is that drought is indeed the normal for their area. The last 100 years of wetter conditions should be followed by 300 to 400 years of drought. That’s what history tells us. Or do they want to rewrite that, too?

  31. There is no water shortage in California. There is plenty of water, but It is being used to grow lettuce, tomatoes, and other produce for the whole of the US. Instead of doing this, let California give up its wetback-based agriculture industry and let the other states grow their own produce. All of the agricultural produce there is harvested by wetbacks, which give the Ca. growers a big price advantage and so their ag products since long ago have dominated the nation’s produce markets.

    Use the water for people, not crops, let the rest of the US grow its own produce, and presto! no water problem. The irrigation water can be used by people instead of crops.

  32. goldminor says:

    …California is going to spend a billion, whoops make that 2 billion now without including further cost increases to come, on high speed rail…

    Final cost, according to the gov’t: around $100 Billion. Anyone who accepts those numbers is naive. Multiply by at least 2X — and assume that there will be never-ending taxpayer subsidies to keep it running.

    The claim is that ‘high-speed rail’ will take passengers from SF to LA in about 4.5 hours. Politics being what it is, ‘bullet’ trains will be forced to stop at lots of little towns along the way, greatly increasing commute times.

    Worse, there is already a complete infrastructure in place: airlines, which can take a passenger from SF to LA in one hour, for around $100.

    This insane project will cost twenty times what it would cost to assure California plenty of water. Desalinization costs have come down sharply, and continue to fall. But Gov Moonbeam Brown is getting old, and he wants something to be remembered by. I will remember him as sticking it to the state and federal taxpaying public, for a 19th century ‘solution’ that is completely unnecessary.

  33. Desalinization will only make sense when it is acceptable to have costly water. We will never run out of water. However, we may run out of “cheap” water. Energy prices will impact the cost of water too. So, being more efficient with water pumping strategies will bring the cost down… but then people might use more of it. Still I am all for more efficient pumping strategies that use water tanks (up high enough to create pressure) to store enough water to navigate pumping around the peak energy demand. Another thing is to monitor the efficiency of pumping (gallons of water per unit of energy) and let the most efficient pumps move most of the water up where gravity stores the potential energy of the water to pressurize the domestic water sources. Lead lag pumping is one method of utilizing the most efficient pumps to move the most water

    Just sayin’

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